Archives for October 2012


Find Stuff Quick: Aikido Journal Member Site Tutorial

Stanley Pranin, Editor of Aikido Journal, gives you a walk-through of the content of the Aikido Journal Members Site, which is the largest archive of aikido-related materials in existence.

There are literally thousands of pages of content with over 1,700 documents, more than 10 thousand photos, over 100 videos, audio recordings, and an assortment of other items.

This tutorial video will give you an overview of the vast amount of material contained in this site that you can consult to improve your skill and knowledge of aikido.

Check out the Aikido Journal Members Site, the largest resource of aikido material available on the web!


“Bucket Lists – Prosper and Live Longer,” by Nev Sagiba


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch

“Life and training are not about contest. They are about being the best that you can be for today and helping others be their best.. The contest is with yourself alone. What you practice daily you become good at.”

Star Trek fans will be familiar with the Vulcan blessing, “Live long and prosper…” It’s not just for Vulcans, Earthlings can have it too. Before you kick the bucket, make a list. Then do it. Excuses take too much energy to keep feeding, energy stolen from achieving. Make it a choice to prosper, then set about doing it. I’m not talking about collecting money. That may or may not be a fringe benefit of real prosperity.

Real prosperity is spiritual, physical, mental and social. It is what you give to the world and how you choose to excel yourself. Prosperity is when you don’t cower before life but meet the challenges!

In regular manageable increments you can do anything. Daily installments of any task ensure you will become good at it. You already know how to brush your teeth and drive a car. You got good at these activities by repeating them daily. So too with anything else you may choose.

Many people claim they need to wait, “for ideal times” or “until money to come into their lives” before they can set out to chase their goals. But no time is good enough, the weather is either too fine or too stormy and they, “are too busy right now.” Ideal times never come. (What the heck is an “ideal time?”) If money does come, the irresolute forget their wishy-washy but vociferous “goals” and chase after other things instead.

If you really mean it, the time is now. The day is today. There is no other. There may not be another. You can!

Some years ago someone showed me an article which made sense. Studies conducted in China, showed that over-training led to an early demise approximating that of people who did no physical exercise at all. Moderate, regular activity involving skill seemed to prolong life with quality by as many as 10 to 20 years.

Now because I can no longer find the article and because those studies were made in China, there will be those who will be quick to assert that such information is, “anecdotal.” Indeed. But it is rather obvious. However merely “knowing” it as a concept and doing it are entirely different matters.
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Video tutorial: Learn to navigate the Aikido Journal Members Site

“The largest resource of Aikido documents on the web!”

Stanley Pranin, Editor of Aikido Journal, gives you a walk-through of the content of the Aikido Journal Members Site, which is the largest archive of aikido-related materials in existence. There are literally thousands of pages of content with over 1,700 documents, more than 10 thousand photos, over 100 videos, audio recordings, and an assortment of other items. This tutorial video will give you an overview of the vast amount of material contained in this site that you can consult to improve your skill and knowledge of aikido…

Watch this tutorial to get the most out of the Aikido Journal Members Site!


“Differences between martial arts training and fighting methods,” by Autrelle Holland

“Morihiro Saito Sensei tells us that atemi is for actual fighting.
I believe that this is common sense when facing multiple attackers.”

One thing that I have learned from my practice of Kali that I have started to pick up on in my practice of Aikido and Aiki Budo techniques is that there is a clear difference between the training method and the fighting method of most martial arts. This is hinted at, or sometimes stated explicitly by those in the know.

Saito Sensei tells us that atemi is for actual fighting. I believe that this is common sense when facing multiple attackers. It’s easier to strike multiple attackers and maintain your balance and mobility than it is to control them. All the more so for one on one combat.

Nishio Sensei alludes to this in his taijutsu presentations. He always starts and enters to a position where he can strike and not be struck. Isn’t this the keynote feature of hanmi/hitoemi? How many of us are adding this facet to our everyday training? In his weapons, his uses otonashi no ken/jo – he doesn’t touch the opponents weapon. That means that he does not parry, but enters and strikes. At every moment, he shows that he controls the encounter. My own belief is that these practices are advanced articulations of Saito Sensei’s ki musubi no tachi.

Saito Sensei’s bukiwaza does use parries from the awase form, but each motion is decisive. This goes back to the old koryu, where “blocks” were really strikes to the opponent’s limbs, head, or body. Katori Shinto Ryu calls this “kuzushi” interestingly enough. Kali uses this as a training method, to substitute the weapon as sort of a “focus mitt” to strike at – not as an attack that is blocked.

It seems like Aikido, at least as I have experienced it, is a lot of unlearning things that are deeply ingrained as a kyu. That may be the the fault of the student, but I still see yudansha doing things that simply would not work against a resisting partner, even less so in actual fighting.

It seems that we forget that that majority of O’Sensei’s students were already experienced martial artists. They came to him, he invited them to attack them however they wish, and then “something happened” and they found themselves thrown or pinned. These people were given training methods. They either understood how to create the applications for fighting methods, or researched it to discover it on their own.

If Aikido is to be understood as a martial art, we have to learn a clear distinction between training and fighting methods. In the Lost Seminars video series, Saito Sensei goes over the levels of training in depth. The ki no nagare forms come closest to a fighting method, given the rhythm that they employ. But the attributes required to perform effective fighting techniques come from the kihon forms. This is clear from his demonstrations.

In regard to Ledyard Sensei’s comments about koryu weapons training for the deshi – hard to prove, but I accept it wholeheartedly. His series, Principles of Aiki, is excellent, by the way.

As a final note, weapons have to be the core of our practice. At my dojo we practice traditional forms of Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo. We also practice forms of stick and knife, borrowed from Kali, but adapted to explain and demonstrate Aiki movement. I find that the two-handed weapons establish footwork, hip positions, and distance ideally, while the shorter one-handed weapons articulate exactly the way the hands move.

More later.

The above text was submitted as a comment to Stanley Pranin’s article titled “Towards A Reform of Aikido Technique (1): Background.” I felt that the insight Autrelle has provided deserved a wider audience. — Editor

Contact the author


Video: Christian Tissier at 2012 Vienna Seminar

This is video features Christian Tissier Sensei, 7th dan, conducting a seminar in Vienna in March 2012. Among the techniques presented are yokomenuchi shiohonage, shomenuchi ikkyo, iriminage, kaitennage, etc.

Christian Tissier began aikido as a boy in France in 1962,. He spent eight years in Japan at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo training with many of the art’s top masters. On his return to his native France, he brought back a new kind of aikido that soon captured the imagination of the Aikido world in his country and practitioners throughout Europe. Tissier is at present the leading figure in the FFAAA organization, one of France’s two large Aikido associations. He was the first foreign instructor to have taught at the International Aikido World Congress…

Click here to view the video of Christian Tissier Sensei at the 2012 Vienna Seminar


“The Power of Photography,” by Josh Gold

How can we extend the spirit of a martial art
outside our practice environments?


This is the second article in a three part series. The unifying theme of the series is this:

How we can extend the principles, values, and benefits of the martial arts to a broader part of society?

If you’ve not read it, the first article in the series is “The Power of Shodo“.

If you’re reading this fine martial arts publication, you’re probably a martial artist, and likely a very experienced one. You’ve almost certainly had first hand experience with the unique combination of elegant beauty and devastating power that comes from the technique of a great master. You’ve probably been deeply moved and inspired by seeing beginners break through the barriers of ego, complacency, and pain, to blossom as martial artists and human beings.

The world loves martial arts. In any given year, the majority of the top grossing movies contain some form of martial arts. Today’s films contain wonderfully produced action scenes, and a few are able to successfully convey the spirit of the martial arts.

Unfortunately, this is the only type of exposure the vast majority of society has to the martial arts. What remains largely unseen is the real technique, drama, and personal growth that happens inside the local martial arts training halls across the world.

How can we extend the inspiration and wisdom of the arts we practice to a broader segment of society? How can we capture, preserve, and share the essence of an art, or a martial artist, outside of our practice environments?

One technique we can use is photography.

The Art of Peace from Ikazuchi Design on Vimeo.
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“Towards A Reform of Aikido Technique (1): Background,” by Stanley Pranin


“What was done instead was to de-emphasize the martial pedigree of aikido’s techniques, and eschew practice conditions that led to the cultivation of a strong martial spirit.”

Kisshomaru Ueshiba demonstrating at Aikikai Hombu Dojo c. 1962

Revival of aikido after World War II

The typical aikido practitioner — this also includes many instructors — has only the vaguest of notions of how the art took roots in Japan and abroad following World War II. This is not due to a lack of availability of information on the subject. It is possible to study about the events of this period, but the necessary information is scattered among multiple sources, which require a reading ability in Japanese, English, and other European languages.

Certainly, the Internet has facilitated this task, but it is still difficult to gain a basic perspective of how aikido reemerged, first in Japan, and then abroad, after the cataclysmic events of the Great War. There is little incentive for scholars to do the necessary research because only a relatively small number of people are interested in such historical matters pertaining to aikido.

Who were the Prime Movers?

It is a fairly simple matter to identify the main persons responsible for aikido’s emergence as a modern Japanese martial art since so few people were involved in the art’s early years. Here is my list: Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Gozo Shioda, and Kenji Tomiki. These names will be immediately recognizable to most experienced aikido practitioners. There are others who played roles of varying importance, but these four figures stand out as the key figures that shaped postwar aikido. Among the four, Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei were far and away the most influential during the 1950s and 60s. Yet neither of the two had an extensive background in martial arts prior to stepping into their leadership roles within the Aikikai.
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“Kuzushi, an aiki perspective,” by Francis Takahashi

“In Aikido practice today, the application of “kuzushi” is quite often more subtle, and “hinted at” rather than explicitly applied.”

The Japanese verb “kuzusu” may mean to “pull down (a building), break down, destroy or level (as in a hill). It can signal a “break” or a “change” in the status or condition of an object or a concept. In Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Aikido, the noun “kuzushi “ normally refers to the breaking of the balance of the opponent, and thus the integrity of his positioning and thus, his stability.

It is no secret that Aikido was the third in a line of modern Japanese martial arts that have their genesis in “koryu” or old style arts. Just preceding Aikido was Judo, and while similarities in philosophy may exist, they have very distinctive features that allow them to stand apart from each other. Then there is “Jiu Jitsu”, of which it seems a myriad of styles and interpretations exist, and have existed over several hundred years. It is also acknowledged that Morihei Ueshiba utilized as a foundation for his art form, Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, his teacher being the famed Sokaku Takeda. The debate can be made as to whether Takeda’s Daito-ryu Aikijutsu is a representative of a gendai (modern) or a koryu (old style) martial art. I leave it to modern scholars to duke it out.

A genuine representative of both Kano of Judo, and Ueshiba of Aikido, was Kenji Tomiki, a direct student of both historical legends, who later introduced a form of Aikido to the Kodokan. Tomiki Sensei was quoted as saying “old-school jujutsu consists in breaking the condition of the body which has lost equilibrium. It is called kuzure-no-jotai (state of broken balance). Sometimes the opponent himself loses the balance, and at other times you positively destroy the opponent’s balance, leading him to a vulnerable posture. In Judo, preparing of the opponent consists in destroying the opponent’s balance before performing a technique and putting him in a posture where it will be easy to apply it.”

From my experience, I find that the above description of “kuzushi” does apply to the way that Aikido techniques were originally designed to achieve their authenticity, validity, and their efficacy. Yet, in Aikido practice today, the application of “kuzushi” is quite often more subtle, and “hinted at” rather than explicitly applied. It is not all that unusual for the nage to begin a “kuzushi” maneuver, and for the uke to finish it. Of course, this smacks of “collusion,” and demonstrates a serious loss of credibility, as well as widespread lack of knowledge or understanding in the Aikido training community of what kuzushi really is all about. It sadly illustrates what these otherwise sincere students of aikido unfortunately lack by ignoring kuzushi’s critical role in making mainstream aikido real, credible, and workable.
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“Aikido’s Ethical Dimension,” by Nev Sagiba

“Aikido is not a better way to fight but a way to make conflict impossible by opening our mind’s eye to the numerous creative possibilities that will obtain equal or better results in all things. And each time we fall, as we will, enables ukemi, to stand up and try again to get it right, to refine ourselves as much as possible.”

Aikido without ethical standards would either revert back to a killing art or degenerate into a meaningless dance.

It would cease to be Aikido and will have become something else.

To aspire to such a vacuous monstrosity would be like saying, “I love democracy but only when I can implement tyranny in its guise.”

A dangerously implosive trajectory indeed.

The Founder’s lofty and unique, but very possible approach to Budo has global implications. Since the world is made up of all its parts influencing the whole, also in daily life. What you do to one affects us all and how we comport ourselves reflects on all of us.

One of the most unhappily miserable individuals I know has spent his life “studying spiritual ways” so that he can better manipulate people in business. He proudly gloats how he, “can screw salesmen out of their commission,” “nails little old ladies to the floor,” and, “can close an evil deal.” He treats women atrociously after often charming then seducing them and is so humiliatingly abusive to waitresses I was sorely tempted to break his nose in public one day.

Each fortune he made, he lost. Each of his marriages failed. He leaves a trail of burnt and suffering people in his wake.

He remains a lonely, frightened, embittered, cheap con man who entirely misses the point of everything! He is still at it.

Such behaviors (including my temptation to punch him) go nowhere. The ancient instincts of the primitive, aggressive, abusive, violent ape are no longer valid for human beings. In the face of the technologies we now command, this “dark side,” if left unaddressed could, by our own hand, render us extinct as a species. This is a matter of serious concern. The power of creation and the power of destruction cannot mix with good results.
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“Penn State Aikido Lesson Plan for Week 5,” by Jim Sullivan

Penn State University is currently conducting an aikido course and part of the course materials are period by Aikido Journal. We invite our readers to follow along with these well-designed assignments.

Hello Aikido students,

This week your assignment is to:

Read article: Morihei Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito

Watch video of Morihiro Saito Shihan with the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba

This week with guest instructor Mark Larson Sensei you will be hearing even more references to Iwama, Morihiro Saito, the Founder and the Aiki Ken and Jo. Reading this article will help you better understand the development of Aikido and Morihiro Saito as a person, a teacher, and the “inheritor of Morihei Ueshiba’s technical legacy”.

You have seen video already in class and on-line of Saito Shihan and the Founder. This week in class you will see footage of Saito Sensei teaching classes in California. This is bonus footage from the Aiki Ken DVD available from Aikido Journal. This week you have guest instructor Mark Larson Sensei teach classes Thursday. In the 1960’s a young man named Bill Witt from the California Bay area became the first American uchideshi of Morihiro Saito Shihan. Witt Shihan is still actively teaching and his efforts paved the way for many others to follow and learn from the student closest to the founder of Aikido – Bernice Tom, Pat Hendricks and Stan Pranin just to name a few. All of these and many other great teachers have a unique capsule of history with Saito Shihan and have become renowned teachers themselves. What is unique about Mark Sensei is that he spent nearly every day of the last five years of Saito Sensei’s life with him, and as such has an unparalleled knowledge of and insight into the last few years of arguably the closest student of the Founder. This video is short and may not seem to have a lot of “Aikido” in it, in actuality if you watch closely I think the true heart and appearance of Aikido can be felt. This will be discussed in class.

Jim Sullivan, Ph.D.
Instructor of Kinesiology
Penn State University
266 Rec Hall
University Park, PA 16823


Gozo Shioda’s Autobiography “Aikido Jinsei” translated into English

“I was something of a conceited young man at the time and
I took Ueshiba Sensei to be an impudent old geezer!”

We were just sent a complimentary copy of Gozo Shioda’s fascinating autobiography titled “Aikido Jinsei” (My Life in Aikido). This volume, like the previous “Aikido Shugyo” by Shioda Sensei, was translated from the Japanese by Christopher Johnston and Jacques Payet.

Quoted from the Shindokan Books website: “Aikido Jinsei, is the autobiography of Shioda Gozo, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido. First published in Japan in 1985, Shioda Sensei uses this book to share his experiences, his aikido and his way of life with his readers. Aikido Jinsei is remarkable for the author’s extremely candid approach. Throughout the book, Shioda Sensei openly shares his most personal experiences from his childhood, his time during the war and his training with the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei Sensei. He shares key insights about Aikido which he learned from Ueshiba Sensei and he clearly documents the events after the war which led to the establishment of the Yoshinkan and his own unique brand of Aikido.

Aikido Jinsei – along with its sister volume, Aikido Shugyo – are indispensable reading for anyone interested in the history of Aikido and the life of Shioda Gozo, one of the most dynamic martial artists of recent time.”

“Aikido Jinsei”
My Life In Aikido

by Shioda Gozo
Translated by Christopher Johnston and Jacques Payet

ISBN 978-1-77084-229-8
313 PAGES, 6″ x 9″ SOFT COVER

Click here to purchase book


“Pat Hendrick’s Incredible Aikido Odyssey,” by Stanley Pranin

The early days

Back in 1975, an attractive young blond woman joined my aikido class in Monterey, California. From the very start, she attended class religiously and displayed an uncommon enthusiasm toward training. I immediately noticed she was very athletic and quick to pick up techniques and falling skills. She insisted on being treated on a par with male students, was afraid of nothing, and approached practice with a laser determination. I wondered how far she would go along the aikido path. I had seen enthusiastic students before, some who continued training for years, only to slowly drift away from the art. I needn’t have worried, for this was Pat Hendricks.

Pat dedicated herself over the next couple of years to improving her martial skills and participated in classes and workshops all over northern California. Women in aikido were just coming into their own at this stage, and Pat forged many friendships with some of the top female instructors in the area that continue to this day.

First trip to Iwama

Uke for Morihiro Saito in Iwama Dojo c. 1988

By the summer of 1977, I had relocated to Japan and immersed myself in training at the Iwama Dojo under the tutelage of Morihiro Saito Sensei. For her part, Pat was pursuing her practice at the Oakland Institute, also learning the Iwama style of aikido. One day, later in that same year and to my great surprise, Pat strolled down the path leading to the Iwama Dojo. She had taken a tremendous leap of faith deciding to leave her life in the States and journey to the source of aikido, O-Sensei’s country dojo in Iwama.

Possessing virtually no Japanese language skills, but full of determination, Pat immersed herself into Japanese life as an uchideshi of Saito Sensei. Typical of her character, she threw herself headlong into her training, and quickly earned a reputation as a promising up-and-comer and a favorite uke of Saito Sensei. Almost daily, Pat could be seen inside the Iwama Dojo taking impressive high falls, her blond hair tied up in a pony tail whipping from side to side. The dojo was full of strong young foreign students and practice was vigorous.
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